I can’t actually believe it’s been 11 months since we left South Africa and moved over here to Ireland with the pug. Some days I miss home terribly, other days it still feels like a dream that we are actually living here. And truthfully, most days, we are still wading through everything and still trying to find our feet.
So much has changed, yet so much has stayed the same. We still work, we still need to pay bills, we still battle to carve out personal time to exercise and keep healthy, and I am still forever wondering what to cook for dinner (I am my mother’s daughter no matter where I am in the world!). There are a few things that I have noticed that we do here in Ireland, that we didn’t do back in South Africa. So I thought I would share some of these differences, but maybe they aren’t really that different as they are just a new norm?10 things I do now that I live in Ireland as an expat Click To Tweet
- I now use all the coins. I have been known to jingle jangle all the way to the store with over 20 euro in change, and buy a week’s worth of groceries. Thank goodness for self-service machines, it means I can slot all those pesky coins into the machine without feeling guilty that the teller has to count it all. We used to have a piggy bank in SA too, but we used to put it into money bags and take it to the bank – Rob always felt too shy to go out and pay for things with coins. Now in Ireland, I feel nothing to go and pay for meals, or groceries with a handful of change. I do feel like 2 euro (largest denomination of coin here) goes a lot further than R5 coin (largest in SA), but maybe that is because we had to learn how to live off one salary.
- We weekly shop instead of monthly bulk buy. This might have started more out of necessity, we don’t own a car so we have to rely on what we can carry in back packs and in our arms while walking to and from the store. The largest store close to our home is a 3km loop there and back. I don’t mind so much as it helps get my steps up for my fitbit. The other reason for a weekly shop instead of a monthly bulk buy is that we have less food wastage, We also save money because we eat what we have in the house before walking to the shops to buy more.
- We don’t eat Hawaiian pizzas or MacDonald’s that much. Take out food is expensive, so if we are going to have a cheat meal, we often resort to frozen pizzas from Tesco. There are not a lot of pizza topping variations when it comes to frozen pizza, so we tend stick to pepperoni. I really miss a good Hawaiian pizza – pineapple on pizza is the best thing ever! And I suppose it is not a bad thing that we don’t have a MacDonald’s drive thru close by!
- We use the postal service (and it actually arrives). This still cracks me up. I get my payslip posted to me each month, I have had my job contract posted to me, our bank cards with a separate envelope for my pin have all been posted to us too. Direct mail is not dead here. In some instances you will find companies are more likely to post something to you than they are to email you, and it is reliable. It usually arrives within a day or two, which still boggles my mind.
- I carry a material shopping bag in my handbag. This is really bad because I know my mum does this back home, but in SA, I very rarely brought shopping bags with me to the store. Now I always keep a cloth bag on me because I refuse to pay extra for a plastic bag – plus we really should be thinking of the environment more.
- We walk everywhere. We don’t have a car (yet. We are thinking about getting one next year) so we rely on our two feet a lot more. We walk to get groceries. We walk the pug. I walk on average 4km every day just to get to walk and home.
- I don’t know how much data I use each month because wi-fi is everywhere. We both have phone contracts with 30 gig data plan, and we have wi-fi at home, not to mention there is wi-fi on the bus to work. I honestly don’t know how we ever lived on a gig of data back in SA.
- We don’t own an “american size” fridge. When we were looking for a place to rent, a lot of rental options had the term “american size fridge” – upon further investigation, we realised it was basically a fridge freezer combo – standard in most South African homes too. Since Dublin pet-friendly rentals are hard to come by, we had to forego the big fridge but for two people on a tight budget, the fridge we have suits our needs perfectly.
- We use public transport every day. I have gotten pretty good at figuring out Dublin Bus routes, taking the train, riding the luas, topping up with credit through the app (super handy!). Not to mention running to catch the bus and knowing which bus route is the fastest way home.
- I now own a coat for every season – all of various thickness and waterproof range. All serve their purpose, trust me I have thought about cutting them down to one (to suit my capsule wardrobe lifestyle). The one thing I am yet to master is figuring out the right coat on before I leave the house and then as they say here in Ireland, “I’ll be grand so”.
It has been the most challenging year we have ever faced, moving overseas is often not as glam as you might expect, but these funny quirky stories are what makes us laugh and learn from these new and different situations. No matter what happens in the future, our lives have certainly changed either way. I think the key to having a successful expat transition is to embrace the changes, try roll with it and go with the change. Not everything you did back home is right (or wrong) – it is just different, and sometimes that change can actually be for the better.
WHAT DO YOU DO DIFFERENTLY IN AS AN EXPAT?
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